Whether or not Cath Kidston’s florals and polka dots make you want to vom or squee with joy, there’s no denying Kidston’s success in the recession, and as a business woman in general.
The Guardian have a lovely little feature on Kidston, describing how after being diagnosed with Breast Cancer, Kidston quit the interior design business and started up what we know now as Cath Kidston Inc.
Her rose bud ironing boards and baby blue tea cosies have seen her sales increase from last year's £19.2m to £31.3m, and while entire chains like Woolworths are closing down, Kidston is still opening stores.
So what is Kidston doing right, that everyone else is doing wrong?
Apparently it’s a combination of nostalgia and the fact that since millions of people can’t exactly sell their homes, they’re trying to make the best of their domains. And what better way to do that than throw up some polka dot bunting and dress yourself in a floral house coat, I mean frock.
But mixed in with the nostalgia and the reality of being stuck in your too small flat that just won’t sell...there’s something else.
Zoe Wood explains that Kidston’s popularity also stems from the fad of women embracing the image of the '50s housewife:
“...celebrating baking, afternoon tea and knitting, have become addictive for a generation of women whose busy working and home lives have led them to idealise rather than practise domesticity. “
Between all of us at BitchBuzz, we’re obviously not adverse to baking, knitting and do tend to love us some Kidston . However, you have to wonder where all this came from. Why are women loving this stuff again? Or did it ever go away?
I suppose a lot of it is just liking what you want to like.
We’re not afraid of liking things that aren’t “feminist enough”. In some cases, a lot of strong, independent women loving corsets and all things domestic is a raised middle finger in the direction of the 2nd wavers.
“See? I can be a feminist and bake a casserole for my boyfriend at the same time!”
But with all those "vintage” dresses, £10 pearls, love of cupcakes and tea and the illusion that we all only care about nomming on baked goods and looking retro-tastic and pretty...it get’s pretty confusing.
Is it silly and frivolous or ironic? Is it genuine or just a simple passing fad?
Even I’m confused by it.
While I do drool over a lot of bits and bobs I see in Cath Kidston’s shops – I suppose the way I feel about Kidston is similar to the way I feel about fairy cakes and girly cocktails.
Individually, I like it. Different pieces, whether it be a Kidston polka dot wallet or 1920s tea party in Covent Garden, it’s fun. But when I look at Kidston’s collections as a whole, my eyes bleed a little. Just as this subsequent movement of faux nostalgic “let’s bake and drink tea and go vintage shopping and then bake some more” makes my brain haemorrhage.
When it’s all mashed together, it just doesn’t seem authentic and/or tolerable.
I’m not saying that people who like to knit or crochet and bake and enjoy their afternoon tea in a Kidston tea cup aren’t genuine.
What I am saying, is that mixed all together, it’s a bit overkill, isn’t it?
Everything in moderation...
Just as Albert Wolsky advised that when it comes to '50s fashion that: “One should not overdo it. It's very easy to slide into total costume." The same should be said of our apparent love of florals, nostalgia, and glorification of the ‘50s housewife.
I suppose I’m just more of Coco’s “simple elegance” school of thought. I believe that too much of a good thing makes you sick. I like to save my Vivienne of Holloway dress for special occasions and my cupcake baking for when I’m going to a dinner party.
Otherwise, I’d just feel like a try-too-hard Stepford Wife, high on icing sugar, and low on noughties realism.